San Marcos, TX is home to many natural wonders and tasty food adventures. With a population of over 63,000, visitors find a quaint community while still getting a big city vibe. San Marcos is home to Texas State University and several parks, museums, and city-wide events. Between caverns and wineries, visitors find lush ecosystems that bring them closer to nature.
1.San Marcos River
© Jonas Brodd/stock.adobe.com
t 75 miles long, the San Marcos River runs from the San Marcos Springs, Texas’ second largest cluster of springs. This tame river was once home to the Rio Vista Dam, which helped to tame the waters. Since its destruction, this location has become a set of three rapids, making the water sport for white water rafting.
Both flora and fauna are abundant throughout the river; however, many species are now endangered. Since the waters and banks of the river are considered one of the most biologically-diverse ecosystems in the Southwest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have labeled the San Marcos River a critical habitat, and the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan is in place to restore areas of the river.
City Park Street, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-393-5930 (Can Marcos Convention & Visitor Bureau)
2.Meadows Center for Water and The Environment
© Meadows Center for Water and The Environment
Once called the Aquarena Springs, this research center was established in 1994 by Texas State University. The goal of the research center is to educate and research the area’s freshwater systems. Along with animal and plant conservation efforts, staff use aerial imaging to check on the springs’ changes and conduct underwater archeology to find sunken historical treasures, such as the shipwrecks of Henry Morgan’s fleet. A boardwalk circles a shallow area, permitting visitors to take a closer look at the ecosystem.
201 San Marcos Springs Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-245-9200
3.Wonder World Cave & Park
© Wonder World Cave & Park
Mark A. Beavers found the opening to Wonder Cave in 1893. Since finding it, owners have changed, and the cave has expanded to an entire park. Wonder World is home to a wildlife park and a conservatory platform. Visitors can be single tickets to enjoy one aspect of the park or a combination ticket for multiple areas.
Once inside the cave, guests view the Balcones Fault Line up close, viewing the different layers of strata and how the earth moves during an earthquake. They get to see fossilized life in the rock, and then take an elevator 190 feet above the ground for an aerial view. Guests can then take a mind-bending trip through the anti-gravity house and a train ride to the wildlife park, where kids and adults can pet and feed the animals.
1000 Prospect Street, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-392-3760
4.Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force
© Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force
What started as a hobby, quickly turned into a desire to preserve history and aircraft flown during WWII. Today’s guests will gaze upon 165 aircraft flown by the Air Force and other nations since WWII. Not only limited to American planes and autos, guests also can view aircraft from around the world.
At the Central Texas Wing Museum, five rooms showcase different campaigns. Each room is filled with treasure from wars, countries, and navigation schools. Along with weapons and survival gear, guests can browse uniforms, airborne cameras, and other memorabilia.
1841 Airport Dr., Building 2249, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-396-1943
5.The Witliff Collections
© The Witliff Collections
The Witliff Collections is housed at Texas State University. In 2009, the exhibitions tripled in size. Since its original founding in 1986, a photograph collection, television miniseries collection, and music collection have been added. Frank Dobie’s collection of diaries, unpublished manuscripts, and personal correspondences are a few of the volumes to browse.
With a trip planned just right, guests can take in one of the many classes, lectures, or guest artists. To promote education and knowledge in the area’s artistic history, admission to the Witcliff Collections is always free.
601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-245-2313
6.Three Dudes Winery
© Three Dudes Winery
Not every winery has been founded by three self-proclaimed dudes who take inspiration from different cuisines. Not every winery has a dog-inspired Merlot. Three Dudes Winery has both. Looking out on the San Marcos River, this winery is a neat location for a wedding or to simply enjoy some Texas-produced wine.
Guests wandering the winery may come across Fideuax, the Brittany Spaniel who inspired the “wine with a mysterious bite.” The tasting room is open seven days a week, and $7 will get you a taste of four different wines. A gift shop offers both wines and memorabilia.
125 Old Martindale Road, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-392-5634
© Roughhouse Brewing
Roughhouse Brewing was originally an idea to bring the Pasternak family closer together and is still run by Davy and Alex Pasternak. This brewing company is settled on the family’s ranch over five acres. While attempting to bring their customers farmhouse-style beers, the Pasternaks ferment all beers in American White Oak foeders and water tapped from the Cow Creek aquifer.
If you’d like to bring your dog along for a taste-testing, leashed dogs are welcome in all outdoor areas. Have a bite to eat in the S. Baker Kitchen, and then enjoy a sampling of the brews in the taproom, or take a bottle to go.
680 Oakwood Loop, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-667-7000
8.Palmer’s Restaurant, Bar and Courtyard
© Palmer’s Restaurant, Bar and Courtyard
San Marcos is located roughly half-way between Louisiana and Mexico, letting Palmer’s Restaurant, Bar and Courtyard take advantage of three culinary styles. Palmer’s is the only restaurant in the area to offer a proper courtyard full of tables for eating and ambiance. Consider joining Palmer’s for an event or a memorable meal. Along with cocktails and delicious food, Palmer’s has a guest house for those looking to stay nearby. If you’re lucky enough to snag the guesthouse, a meal at the restaurant and a bottle of local wine are included with the stay.
218 Moore Street, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-353-3500
© Grins Restaurant
Still owned by one of the original cooks from its founding, Grins Restaurant is a unique and local burger joint for tourists, locals, and college students. Customers can find fantastic bar food, like Shiner Bock beer battered chicken fried steak, onion rings, and ten signature burgers. Grins also pulls in local Mexican cuisine with fajitas, fish tacos, and freshly prepared salsa. Happy hours are held weekdays and offer some excellent options from the bar and kitchen. Guests can take home logoed merchandise or one of the more popular made daily salad dressings to take home.
802 North LBJ, San Marcos, TX 78666, Phone: 512-392-4746
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9 Best Things to Do in San Marcos, TX
- San Marcos River, Photo: Jonas Brodd/stock.adobe.com
- Meadows Center for Water and The Environment, Photo: Meadows Center for Water and The Environment
- Wonder World Cave & Park, Photo: Wonder World Cave & Park
- Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, Photo: Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force
- The Witliff Collections, Photo: The Witliff Collections
- Three Dudes Winery, Photo: Three Dudes Winery
- Roughhouse Brewing, Photo: Roughhouse Brewing
- Palmer’s Restaurant, Bar and Courtyard, Photo: Palmer’s Restaurant, Bar and Courtyard
- Grins Restaurant, Photo: Grins Restaurant
- Cover Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com